two series off today; two Game 2s on tap. all the results at Cardinal70's tracker page.
So I was in a hurry yesterday and didn't have sufficient time to express my admiration for the '85 Cards. It's forgotten now, but they got off to a horrible start --- lost their first 4 games of the year and were still 3 games under, at 16-19, halfway through May. They trailed the Mets by 8 games in the loss column as of that day (May 19) and were 6 behind the Cubs, who were defending division champs. The Cards were coming off successive seasons of 84 and 79 wins; there was no reason at all to think they were going to be worth watching that summer.
And then they got it going. They swept the Braves to get back to .500, then won or split all but 3 of their next 18 series. That two-month run was worthy of the 2004 Cards --- Whitey's gang went 44-18, a .710 clip. By the end of that 62-game segment they were 3 games up on the division. They lost 5 of 6 to fall back into 2d place, but then won 9 of 10 to get back into first; lost 3 straight but then won 7 in a row to go back up by 3; lost 3 in a row, won 4 straight, then lost 4 straight to fall back into 2d place, a game behind the despised Mets. Then, starting on September 13, they won 14 out of 15 to get themselves back atop the division to stay. It was their 7th separate occupancy of first place that year, a real see-saw race with lots of ups and downs and a ton of suspense. There was no wild-card in those days, and the very real possibility existed that the Cardinals would win 95 or 96 games but miss the playoffs; as it turned out the Mets won 98 (the second-best total in their history up to that time) but didn't play in October. That very easily might have been our team's fate.
It wasn't, fortunately. The fate that did lie ahead (ie, Denkinger &c) wasn't everything we hoped, but the team did win a division title (a real accomplishment back then) and another pennant (their 15th). Of all the Cardinal teams I have watched, the '85s are my all-time favorites. They played nearly as well as the 2004s but did it under a lot more pressure, with almost no margin for error. The other fun thing about that team was that they were largely homegrown. Of the 8 everyday players, 6 had never worn a big-league uniform other than the Cards'; ditto for 3 of the starting pitchers, the primary closer (Lahti), and the late-season callup who took over as closer (Worrell).
Oh yeah, there were also the 314 stolen bases, a post-1900 franchise record; those were fun to watch, too.
Yesterday's game featured a pair of left-handed pitchers; today's features right-handers, so both lineups have a slightly different look:
|Vince Coleman, lf||Sparky Adams, 3b|
|Willie McGee, cf||George Watkins, rf|
|Tom Herr, 2b||Frank Frisch, 2b|
|Jack Clark, 1b||Jim Bottomley, 1b|
|Andy Van Slyke, rf||Chick Hafey, lf|
|Darrell Porter, c||Pepper Martin, cf|
|Terry Pendleton, 3b||Jimmie Wilson, c|
|Ozzie Smith, ss||Charlie Gelbert, ss|
|Joaquin Andujar, p||Paul Derringer, p|
The '85s jump right out on top for the 2d straight day. Coleman and McGee both go down, but Herr homers off the foul pole to make it 1-0, and then Clark, Van Slyke, and Porter hit consecutive singles to produce a 2d run. The aggregate score for the series is now 18-0. The '31s finally score a run next half-inning on a solo shot by George Watkins; that's their only baserunner, however, in the first trip through the order. And the '85s get the run right back in the 2d on a double by Andujar and an RBI hit by McGee. They lead it 3-1 after 3 innings.
In the bottom of the 4th Chick Hafey purt near ties it up with one swing --- his deep fly with two outs and a man on first falls just short, and Coleman hauls it in. Their longball bid thwarted, the '31s turn to small ball in the next inning: Martin walks and steals second, then comes around when Andujar throws Charlie Gelbert's comebacker into right field. Derringer bunts Gelbert over, and Adams dumps a flare over Ozzie's head to score the baserunner. Both the runs are unearned, but so what --- after 5 innings the '31s are tied 3-3 and in pretty good position to even up the series.
Both teams put their leadoff men on base in the 6th but fail to make anything of the opportunity. In the 7th McGee leads off with a hit and then steals 2d base --- his team's first SB since the first inning of Game 1. He's in scoring position with Herr at the plate, and Tommy v1985 loves this situation --- he batted .335 with RISP that year. Derringer fires, Tommy slaps it back through the box, and just like that it's 4-3 for Whitey's guys and the inning is just getting started. Sim-Gabby Street yanks Derringer in favor of Jim Lindsey, who strikes out Clark and gets Van Slyke to hit into a fielder's choice. There are 2 outs now and the dangerous part of the order is past; maybe Lindsey breathes too easy too soon. With Porter batting, Van Slyke filches second; Lindsey then walks Porter to bring up Pendleton, who also draws a walk. Lindsey struggled with his control in 1931 (45 walks in 74.2 innings), but he still managed to log a 2.77 ERA, best on the team that year. He tries to come right after Ozzie, but he just can't find the plate; the Wizard waits him out, draws a walk, and forces in the 2d run of the inning. Andujar's up, but with a 2-run lead maybe he bats for himself? He's only at 71 pitches and has held the opposition to 4 hits and 1 earned run in 6 innings. Sim-Whitey goes for broke and sends up Cesar Cedeno; the gamble pays off when Cesar whistles one back over 2d, scoring Porter and Pendleton. The '85s lead it 7-3.
McGee triples leading off the 8th and trots home on Herr's subsequent single; that's 4 hits and 3 RBI for Tommy today. Bill Campbell and Ken Dayley take care of the last 9 outs without much excitement; the final score is 8-3, and the '85s have taken the first two games by a combined score of 24-3.
Off day tomorrow; Game 3 on Thursday from Busch II.
* * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * *1944 CARDINALS v. 1964 CARDINALS
(1964 leads, 1 game to 0)
summary by giveml
After prevailing in a 3-1 nail biter in Game 1, the 1964 Cardinals are feeling confident in today's battle of lefthanders, with Curt Simmons taking the hill against Max Lanier. The 1944 club is looking upbeat as well, since they are very accustomed to winning and still expect to get the best of the `64s. As Danny Litwhiler said, "What I remember most about '44 was that every day you knew you were going to win. Like I said, if you lost, so what? We'll get them tomorrow."
Johnny Keane has shuffled the deck with the left-handed Lanier on the mound, swapping out the left-handed Bill White in the three hole for the righty Dick Groat. Mike Shannon and Tim McCarver have been swapped as well, with Game 1 hero Shannon being moved up to the six hole. Despite a reputation as a lineup tinkerer, Billy Southworth counters with the same lineup against Simmons that faced the right-handed Gibson.
In 1964 Curt Simmons was a 17-year veteran who had spent most of his distinguished career as a Philadelphia Phillie, where he debuted as the youngest player in the league at age 18 in 1947. He was a three-time all-star and won 193 games in his career. He is probably the only major leaguer to hail from Egypt, PA. His opponent today, the 5'10' Lanier, was originally signed by Branch Rickey's brother Frank out of high school, but quit in a dispute over $30 per month in pay and played semi-pro ball for three years in and around his native North Carolina. During his time playing for Rock Hill he was fortunate enough to face a 50-year-old, white-haired outfielder for the Greenville, South Carolina, team by the name of Shoeless Joe Jackson. According to Lanier, "Shucks, he could still hit those line drives, I'm telling you. He could hit just about anything you throwed up there." In 1937 Lanier won 16 straight games playing for Asheville, NC, and was signed by the Cardinals and sent to Columbus of the American Association. He was invited to spring training the next year, made the club in 1938, and pitched for the Cardinals through the 1951 season.
Here are the lineups these two hurlers will be facing:
|Curt Flood, cf||Danny Litwhiler, lf|
|Lou Brock, lf||Johnny Hopp, cf|
|Dick Groat, ss||Stan Musial, rf|
|Ken Boyer, 3b||Walker Cooper, c|
|Bill White, 1b||Ray Sanders, 1b|
|Mike Shannon, rf||Whitey Kurowsi, 3b|
|Julian Javier, 2b||Marty Marion, ss|
|Tim McCarver, c||Emil Verban, 2b|
|Bob Gibson, p||Mort Cooper, p|
The home-standing `44s take the field first as Curt Flood strolls to the dish. Lanier quickly gets both him and Brock to strike out swinging on balls outside the zone before walking the more patient Groat. Boyer follows with a liner back through the box as Groat aggressively takes third. Bill White is up with two outs and runners at first and third, but Lanier retires him on a towering pop-up into short right field.
That's the only real threat by either side for quite a while. Lanier holds the '64 lineup hitless for the next four innings, while Simmons is nearly as sharp against the '44s. Musial singles in the first and Sanders does likewise in the bottom of the second, but neither man gets past first base. The `64s threaten in the sixth when Brock narrowly misses a homer with one out; the ball hits off the wall in right-center, and Brock speeds around to 3d base. With the infield in for the play at the plate, Groat does his best to punch it past the drawn-in defenders, but Emil Verban makes a sparkling play at 2B to rob Groat of the RBI and hold Brock at third with two out. Neither Southworth nor Lanier wants any part of the MVP Boyer; he's intentionally walked to bring up the left-handed hitting White. Lanier gets the future Yankees broadcaster and NL president to swing at a breaking ball in the dirt for the final out.
The bottom of the sixth starts out harmlessly enough as Litwhiler is frozen by a Simmons breaking pitch for a called strike three. Hopp follows with a routine ground ball to Groat at short, but Groat must still be thinking about his failure to bring the lead run home in the top half of the inning because he sails his throw to first and pulls White off the bag for an error. Simmons comes back to get Musial to hit a slow roller to short, and Groat's throw nips him at first as Hopp scoots over to second. Faced with a similar decision as Southworth and Lanier were in the previous frame, Keane and Simmons elect to pass the right-handed hitting Cooper and take their chances with the dangerous, but left-handed, Sanders. Sure enough, Sanders waves at a bender in the dirt for the third strike, preserving the scoreless tie.
The crowd begins to buzz as the seventh inning gets underway, as Southworth decides to replace Lanier with yesterday's losing pitcher, the rookie Al Jurisich. Surprising move --- Lanier was sailing along through six with a two-hitter and had struck out seven batters while throwing only 86 pitches. Speculation runs through the press box that Lanier must be hurt, as there doesn't seem any other reasonable explanation for this curious decision. Nevertheless, Jurisich has an opportunity to redeem himself following the Game 1 loss. The first man he faces is Shannon, who drove home the decisive runs in yesterday's contest. He gets the best of Jurisich again, slashing an outside pitch through the hole into right field for a leadoff single. Javier moves him over with a textbook sacrifice, giving McCarver a chance to break the deadlock. Timmy jumps on the first pitch and rifles it into right for an RBI as Shannon plates the first run of the game. That enables Keane to let Simmons bat; he bunts McCarver into scoring position for Flood. Clearly deflated by his inability to preserve the tie, Jurisich tries to paint the corners and ends up walking both Flood and Brock to bring up Groat with the bases loaded. Thus far, Groat has failed to drive in a runner from third and also made an error, so he is very anxious to plate an insurance run or two. However, he is fooled on a first pitch changeup and tops a slow roller right back to Jurisch. With an easy play in front of him to get out of the inning, Jurisich rushes his throw and loses the handle; everybody's safe, and the `64s are now leading 2-0.
Sim-Southworth comes out to the mound for a visit while Freddy Schmidt quickly warms in the `pen. The manager elects to leave Jurisich in to face Boyer, an extremely dubious move. It's still only 2-0; why give Boyer a chance to break the game open against a struggling rook? Jurisich battles gamely, but Boyer spanks a 2-2 fastball back through the box for a base hit; Flood and Brock both score, and Groat advances to third on Hopp's throw home. Southworth is out of the dugout before the throw reaches home, but he's way too late; the '64s lead 4-0 at the seventh -nning stretch.
Simmons has been sitting for quite a while during the rally, gathering rust. He gets Kurowski to roll out to Javier for the first out of the inning, but then Marion smokes a hanging changeup into left field and Emil Verban grounds one off of the diving Groat's glove to put runners on first and second with only one out. Ron Taylor gets up in the bullpen, but Keane stays with Simmons to face the pinch hitter - 40 year-old Johnny Leonard Roosevelt "Pepper" Martin, aka "The Wild Hoss of the Osage." Martin had retired after the 1940 season, but he came back to help fill out the war-depleted roster in 1944 and managed to put up a .279/.386/.395 line in limited duty. Pepper uses all those years of experience to coax a walk and load the bases for the top of the '44 lineup. Litwhiler's a threat to tie the game --- he hit 15 homers in 1944 and 107 in his career --- but Simmons pops him up on a high fastball. Johnny Hopp, also a longball threat (11 homers and a .499 slugging average in 1944), steps in with 2 outs and hits it in the air the opposite way; Brock camps under it in left center and puts it away to end the inning.
Simmons departs in the top of the 8th for a pinch-hitter, and Ron Taylor enters the game to protect the 4-0 lead. He retires Musial on a grounder to Javier and strikes out Cooper. However, he gets a little careless with Ray Sanders, who punishes him with a bullet over the 354' sign in right-center to get the `44s on the board at 4-1. After Kurowski follows with a single through the hole, Keane decides to get Barney Schultz up in the pen, but Taylor feeds Marion a steady diet of breaking balls and then freezes him with an inside fastball at the letters for a called strike three.
Blix Donnelly, in his second inning of work, gets Flood and Brock leading off the 9th before walking Groat on a 3-2 breaking ball. Southworth summons Webster Groves native Bud Byerly to face Boyer. Buoyed by his key hit in the seventh, Boyer strokes a single through the left side and advances Groat to second. Then White jumps on the first pitch from Byerley and bombs it into the right-field alley. The ball hops over the fence for a ground-rule double, scoring Groat and advancing Boyer to third. Shannon steps up next and gets his fourth hit of the series, a drive into left field that hops over the 379' sign for another ground-rule double and a 7-1 lead for the `64s. The unnerved Byerly then uncorks a wild pitch on a 58-foot curveball as Shannon advances to third. Byerly recovers to throw a 1-2 curve in the dirt to Javier and a strikeout to end the inning.
Taylor stays in the game to close things out as the `64s take a 2-0 series lead. The `44s are looking a bit shell-shocked. They have only scored 2 runs in the series so far and are hitting just .206 as a team. The '64s aren't hitting all that well -- .242 as a team through 2 games --- but they're getting the clutch hits: 9 of their 10 runs in the series have scored with 2 outs.
Curt Simmons is named Star of the Game for his seven innings of shutout ball. Game 3 comes up on Thursday.